After sleeping on it I have made a decision. I will import my poetry blog over to this site to condense the amount of back and forth I am doing managing two blogs. I have been in this a little over a month and I’m making mistakes as expected. I am never really good at going into an endeavor with a concrete plan (*sigh*), I kind of just feel my way around until I get it. This is no exception. All will be updated today and I will be ready to move forward as one writer! So excited!!
My mind is blank. Somehow I think if I sit here long enough having a staring contest with my keyboard I will find inspiration. Nope. Just watering eyes, and passing time. Maybe it’s the distracting football that Hubby is watching on TV. Maybe it’s the work I should be doing, on my mind. (Ha! work…on my mind!) Perhaps it is the commitment I’ve made to myself to write every day. Maybe it’s just me but I’m literally feeling brain dead. The challenge here was to write, write well, and write every day so here I am. This sometimes happens, right? Do they make a type of Viagra for the flaccid mind? I am grateful that a month ago I wasn’t even writing and now I’m writing two blogs and a book but I’m a bit overwhelmed. I have been trying to decide if I should combine the two blogs or keep them separate. Decisions…decisions….I think I’ll sleep on it.
This past week I was standing on the soccer sideline during my son’s practice, talking with another parent and trying to keep warm, when a third woman joined our conversation. My friend’s other child plays on the same team with her daughter but I had never met her. She looked totally normal, nice coat, cute boots, nose running from the chilly temps and colored bright red just like mine. But with sudden trepidation I realized who it was that I was so casually chatting about laundry and new-model minivans and smelly goalkeeper gloves with and I went cold with fear. I all at once felt uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say; what words to choose. I found myself rolling every comment around in my mind before it was said to make sure there was absolutely no possible association with death, son, car….You see, this woman witnessed the loss of her 12-year old son in a tragic accident last year. The feeling reminded me of when I was young and my brother and I would go out shopping with my mom and act up. My mom would say “remind me to spank you when we get home.” I would spend the rest of the day avoiding the ideas of spank, hit, strike, punish, trouble…..in fear that she would remember to follow through.
From the outside you could never tell this mother was shattered and how she still walks around daily is beyond me. Her grief must be unbearable. I know her more intimately through her Facebook remembrance page for her son and the charity events our soccer club has put together for her. I have read her grief in the posts she writes once a month to him. Her post from last month on his birthday was particularly heart-wrenching. I wish I had chosen to say what was in my heart then. Things like “I admire you for not losing your faith in God” or “your strength is amazing” or “if you ever need anything here’s my phone number” but I didn’t, I froze. I was afraid to speak because I was worried I would trigger the memory of her worst nightmare, as if she ever forgets it for a moment.
This encounter got me thinking about how important it is to just say the words that you want to say and to speak from your heart, or you may lose the chance. Nothing should hold us back from giving a part of ourselves to others, of letting them know we care, of spreading love. If you think someone looks beautiful in blue, or you appreciate their sense of fairness or compassion, or their haircut rocks, let them know. If someone looks like they are having a rough day, just hearing you tell them it is going to be alright or asking if they need anything will help. Make sure your loved ones know you are behind them 110% in everything they do if it makes them happy, that you have their back, and they have your support. And most importantly of all, make sure that every day, everyone you love, knows you care because there may be no tomorrow.
Something I think is important for me to do as a new writer is to create space. Not only create space in my life in terms of time to write, but also a comfortable physical place to go when I want to focus.
I own a small company that has a lot of unexpected daily scheduling items. I often don’t know when I am going to have to leave the house to go out on a job at the last-minute, or have to triage a ton of phone calls and emails, or help an employee. I have an on-call 24/7 kind of business. This is one of my biggest distractions when it comes to writing. Heck, this is one of my biggest distractions when it comes to life! I can never get away from it; can never really “unplug.” I’m not much of a planner (more on organization in future posts, I’m sure) so to have things constantly pop up in “now” status is frustrating for me. When I am writing, I usually feel like I need an open-ended window of time to be able to stop where it is natural for me to stop, or keep going if I the creativity is flowing. I have, however, taken some steps to minimize the interruptions by speaking with my business partner and changing my voice mail message to let clients know when and how they will be contacted back if it is not an emergency. I have also begun to schedule what work I can and decline work that is not scheduled in advance. I have in essence, put limits on my availability. This has helped tremendously and created space for me from a hectic work environment. At home, I have been lucky that my family has been receptive to giving me the time I need to take for myself. I guess they see how happy this makes me, or they don’t mind the house being a little (a lot) messier. Above all, what I needed to do was learn to draw boundaries around my time. This was a life skill I seemed to be lacking.
I have also created the room in this picture to have a peaceful place to write. I painted it a soothing color I love. I know my style may not be for everyone but I have surrounded my writing “nest” with things that I think are beautiful and meaningful and inspiring. No work other than writing is allowed in this room! Two things I collect are crystals/mineral specimens and antique bottles so they are both represented here. They just make me happy. I have placed pictures of angels and a pair of wings on the walls to remind me that I am never alone and should I need help I only need to ask. I have also included a very small portion of my book collection. I have a deep love of books and these remind me what I’m aiming for; publication! I think it is very important to remember to be grateful so I have added “Take A Deep Breath And Take In The Abundance Of Life” on the wall to keep me focused on my many blessings. One of the most important things in the room is one of the few pictures I possess of my dad and I together. We are walking hand in hand in a wide open meadow in Yosemite National Park when I was about two years old. We didn’t have a close relationship during his lifetime and he passed away three years ago. This is how I stay connected to where I came from and it is a good reminder that I must overcome what I have always perceived as a broken childhood and grow the Hell up. I also have a window to look out of as I daydream and make my dreams come true. The one thing I am deeply unhappy with in this room is the chair. The God-awful chair. It is the most hideous, pleathered, uncomfortable, falling apart, cheap thing I could imagine. The chair cover is more expensive than the chair and that won’t stay on. It is as if the cover doesn’t even want to be near it! I borrowed the chair from my business partner because it was languishing in her basement and I had nothing to sit on. It is actually up on granite blocks to accommodate the legs of the laptop desk I built yesterday (all by myself) beneath it. I will be upgrading this shabby monstrosity as soon as I can! The poster board and cork panels stacked by the window will be my cheap version of a pin board instead of a store bought one ($50 YIKES!!) Hopefully with a little hot glue and effort it will become my story board for my book. Yesterday I dusted and cleaned in preparation for heavy use of this marvelous space I have created. With new oil in the diffuser (I love things to smell good) I am ready to go!
To hear my mom wail hysterically and break down in powerless sobs from the bathroom the first time she saw herself in the mirror after her double mastectomy is something I will never get over. I will never, ever outlive the pain that resonated so clearly above the normal shower sounds we all take for granted. I will always have nightmares of the sound of her mourning her beauty, her health, and her womanhood. To bear witness to someone’s ultimate suffering, despair, and fear was soul consuming for me. I thought of my daughter, and what this meant for her future. I thought of my son, the brand new two-month-old grandson she had only just met for the first time. And I wondered if mom (and myself) would ever again be OK physically or emotionally. That was ten years ago.
Mom had always been the sort of woman who was neatly pulled together. She had her hair, nails, and makeup done every day, without fail. She was beautiful and even as a single parent, men couldn’t help but be interested in her. She was an impeccable dresser and her closet was neatly arranged to hold several full sections of clothes divided into work, evening, and casual attire. Her accessories were organized and selected to perfectly fit each outfit. What I remember most however, were her hands. Her beautiful-manicured twice weekly- hands. They were often bedecked with custom-made jewelry featuring unusual gold designs and stones, but even naked they were amazing. The product of years of tender care and regimen.
She was never one to ask for help but offered it freely to those who needed it (perhaps a little too often.) If something had to be done such as a home repair or yard work, she took care of that herself. The only things she seemed to stay away from were car repairs, which would mess her nails. Nothing else was off-limits though and I watched her learn the hard way through trial and error how to lay brick, redo plumbing and install flooring. This was all before you could simply sit down and watch a couple of YouTube videos to learn how to do stuff. She was proud and anything but a “helpless woman.”
Mom was the hardest worker I have ever known. She got up every morning at 5:30am to get herself pulled together for work at a great job at an important company. She had clawed her way up the ladder to success in a time when women just weren’t “successful.” Especially a divorcee with two unruly kids. She worked this nine to five job during the week, sold real estate on weekends, purchased and managed rental properties for extra income, and earned a college degree, all while raising us on her own. There were no limits to her energy.
That my mom was healthy was never in question. She understood nutrition and ate a healthy diet. She even made sure we had protein powder stirred into our orange juice and that our vitamins were on the counter every morning before school. She worked out at the gym daily, hiked often, played volleyball, and swam. Once she retired she religiously walked her dog every morning at the same time, on the same route, for the same number of miles. Her fitness was always a priority.
Mom kept her car clean and her home cleaner-everything in its place. Tuesdays the upstairs were cleaned and vacuumed, Thursdays it was the downstairs. She washed her car every week and taught us about taking care of what we had, which wasn’t always a lot. Her last home was the pinnacle of her success. It had everything she wanted. There was an amazing view out the back windows of her favorite rolling hills and oak trees. I will miss that view. She built a garden, put in the landscaping, and even constructed a covered swing, all by herself. She made her own food from the produce she collected; the real fruits of her hard work. Nothing gave her more delight than to harvest her own cherries and eat them straight off the tree.
After mom was diagnosed, she volunteered for years at a local breast cancer support organization that helped patients get to doctor appointments, provided in-home meals, fitted them for prosthetic bras, secured wigs, and provided moral and monetary support. After that, she volunteered and helped people in hospice care by reading to them, feeding them, and taking down their genealogy information so their stories wouldn’t die with them. She did all of this knowing she would someday experience the same downhill slide they were living. I watched my mom as she helped an elderly neighborhood couple by cleaning their home, providing repairs, and driving them to medical appointments two hours away because their vision was impaired. When I was young I remember her slipping a thousand dollars that she didn’t have into a coworker’s desk drawer because she knew this woman couldn’t afford her own cancer treatment. She connected with family she had never known and began caring for them as well.
I’m angry at breast cancer for making what remaining life my mom has left in her, so difficult. Small pleasures like walking her dog or going to the movies are now major chores and are often more trouble than they joy she can derive from them. I hate cancer for causing her bones to disintegrate, for causing her to take radiation and chemotherapy that she hates because they are toxins she vowed she would never let into her body, and for the excruciating pain she must live with daily that causes her so much discomfort. I detest cancer for making her clean out and sell her dream house, with her garden and view and swing, and trade it for a tiny one bedroom apartment with zero outdoor space. I will never forgive cancer for making my mom cry as she “dismantled a lifetime” and gave, sold, or threw away almost all of her possessions because they wouldn’t fit in that apartment. These were her words. I detest cancer for robbing my mom of her health, her dignity, and her independence. There is no pain on earth like a daughter being asked by such a proud woman to help shave her armpits because she can no longer reach them but still feels propelled to perform this most basic and intimate item of personal grooming. Cancer sucks but I have to let this hate go. I must focus on the gifts cancer has brought. The biggest gift is the precious awareness of living now. Experiencing each day while I can, with those I love. This is the only way I can get through watching a loved one suffer so.
I am deeply appreciative for all of the Breast Cancer Awareness organizations out there giving resources and spreading knowledge so that fewer wonderful souls have to walk the Hell my mom has walked. I am grateful to be able to sit down and really think about this powerful female role model that I was so blessed to learn from, and to be able to share her with my children. I am so lucky I have been reminded that her real legacy is her inner beauty and the light she spread in the many lives she touched. I am so filled with gratitude to know her soul will continue on and the love she shared here on earth will not die with her. She will live on in me and I am thankful today to be able to share her with you. In honor, I think of you, mom.
Finn: What’s it like not to feel anything?
Estella: Let’s say there was a little girl, and from the time she could understand, she was taught to fear… let’s say she was taught to fear daylight. She was taught that it was her enemy, that it would hurt her. And then one sunny day, you ask her to go outside and play and she won’t. You can’t be angry at her can you?
Finn: I knew that little girl and I saw the light in her eyes, and no matter what you say or do, that’s still what I see.
Estella: We are who we are. People don’t change.
There, I said it and voicing this insight out loud is HUGE for me. This way of thinking has been a perverse ugly 900 lb. gorilla on my back for so long I’d forgotten to even notice he was there. I just carried the weight without question. This persuasive primate has pushed me around and pulled me away from the things that seem to be easy basic human rights for other folks. Things as simple as happiness, health, peace and wealth. His calling card is self-doubt; his breath smells like failure.
I have named this unruly beast Masher.
Masher and I have been together forever and he’s gotten quite comfortable here in my head. Banging around like a large angry toddler, he’s been that gruff restraining voice yelling “No!” ever since I can remember. I learned early on that when we struggle, he always beats me. Over the years I have had brilliant glimpses of who I really am but those were quickly contained and squashed, snuffed out and dominated into dust. In the past I have been a drug addict, a terrible daughter, and a whore; someone who cut her own wrists and hands just to feel something because I was so numb. Recently I have only identified as a sloppy housewife with an out of control bank account; a harried soccer mom parenting two kids who personify the phrase “herding cats”.
I’ve been kind of hard on myself. This is a lot of ape to shake.
What I never understood until now was how well Masher replaced my truth with his own perceptions. He was happy to hold his hands tightly over my eyes and interpret what was happening for me. My very own Masher Filter. What I also didn’t understand was how amazingly well he carried the energy messages I was sending out. This repeating loop of sucky tainted energy input equals sucky tainted energy output is known as The Law of Attraction. Everything we perceive is nothing more than vibrating atoms (matter) or the space in between (energy) strained through our stockpile of experience. The way we view life is the way life appears to us. Our thoughts exist as energy magnets and what we send out is what we invite. Sort of the way spitting into the wind works. What we invest the most energy in is our biggest harvest. It is only when our experience filter skews our perceptions that things get distorted much like ripples in a pond break up smooth images as a rock is thrown in. In my case, there has been a big granite boulder attached to my feet.
I’ve been drowning for a long time.
This is where it ends; I am sending Masher packing (with love of course). It’s not that I don’t appreciate all that my hairy sidekick has taught me because I do. I would not be me without him. And I’m not saying it will be an easy ride. In fact, if the last 45 years are any indication, I have some bruising coming to me. But in order to survive and redefine myself as the mother, wife, writer, and light worker I was put on this earth to be, I must lose this incredible weight clamped around my mind, my body, and my spirit. I must lose the Masher Filter. I am coming up for air and climbing out of this ocean of subversion. In other words, in the words of George Taylor from Planet of the Apes:
“Take your stinking paws off of me, you damn dirty ape!”
People do indeed change.